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righteous. God said to Cain, “If thou doest well thou shalt be accepted.” God did not mean, that if Cain governed his conduct by the law given to Adam, he should be accepted; for God never commanded any of the posterity of Adam not to eat of the tree in the midst of the garden of Eden. But, if he would bring an offering to the Lord, with a good mind, a pure heart, he should be accepted, notwithstanding his being a sinner; perhaps some will say, that I ought to have added, with a pure heart, in the name of the Messiah. I grant he must have brought his offering in faith, in order to be accepted. But may we suppose that he would have failed of acceptance, had his heart been as pure as that of Abel? Can we suppose that he would have been willing to bring an offering with a pure heart; but would have objected against bringing it in faith? Is not a righteous character, a pure heart, acceptable in the sight of God? Certainly; therefore, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.'?
.?? And take notice, by the way, Christ was not speaking to Adam in Paradise, but to some of his sinful posterity,
But before we proceed any further, and that we may prepare the way for a more direct investigation of the subject under consideration, let us inquire, what the death was, which was threatened to Adam, on his eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
And the Lord God took Adam, and put him into the garden to dress it and to keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." Adam is here addressed as if he alone
. were concerned. But it is evident that both Adam and Eve were comprehended in one. “Eve it appears, understood the law as extended to herself as really as it did to Adam." For “We may eat," saith she, "of the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midsi of the garden, God hath
said, ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die." With this agrees what follows: "And God said, Let us make MAN in our image; in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them, and called their name Adam.
Adam made in the image of God was manifestly designed to act as a public head. not only for himself but for his whole posterity. Upon this united pair, called Adam, depended under God the destiny of the whole world. In case this pair should eat, or only touch the forbidden fruit, death was to be the inevitable consequence. Eve, in this intimate union, was capable of being in the transgression, and consequently of having a hand, in bringing death upon her family, even to the last of their posterity." "And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat." Adam comprising Eve in himself, thus disobeyed the law of Paradise, and brought death upon himself and upon the whole family of mankind. Hence, through "the offence of one, many are dead"
Let us now inquire, and show, in what sense Adam died and his whole posterity with him, in consequence of his disobedience, in eating of the tree, of which God said "thou shalt not eat of it: for, In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely DIE." Adam did eat and he died. He fell, and all his posterity fell with him.
If then we can determine in what consists the fallen state of man; it will be easy to see what constitutes the death threatened to Adam in Paradise. Mankind are by nature carnally minded; in the language of the apostle Paul, they are "dead in trespasses and sins." And how did mankind come to be in this state, dead in sin? We have an answer in the words of the same apostle; "By one man's disobedience many were made sinners." It was agreeable to a divine constitution, that if Adam transgressed the law given him in Paradise, his whole posterity should be sinners;
Hence the literal translation from the Greek text is, "By one man's disobedience many were constituted sinners.” And if all those who were thus conslituted sinners, through the apostasy of Adam, be dead; then the death which came upon Adam, and all his posterity, in consequence of his eating of the forbidden tree, was SPIRITUAL DEATH.
Some suppose that the death threatened Adam comprehends not only spiritual but eternal death. That the death threatened was spiritual death, being made evident:
I shall now attempt to show that it did not imply temporal nor eternal death.
1. It did not imply temporal death, that is, the. death of the body.
The body of Adam did not die, in the day in which he did eat of the forbidden tree. Temporal death, therefore, was not the death with which he was threat, ened. God meant, no doubt, that if he transgressed the command, by eating, his body should finally die: therefore, after he had sinned, God said to him, "Dust thou art, and untɔ dust shalt thou return" He said also Cursed is the ground for thy sake.” It does not however, follow from this, that the curse of the ground was contained in the curse threatened for the first act of disobedience. Adam being now a sinner, it was suitable that a curse, in some respect, should always attend him. T'he thorns and thistles with which he was surrounded, instead of a pleasant and fruitful gar. den, were calculated to remind him of his shameful apostasy: “In the sweat of thy face,” says God to Adam thou shalt eat bread;" this, also, would naturally put him in mind of the folly of his disobedience. But these curses were not the death threatened for the tirst transgression.
The second Adam came into the world to redeem inen from the evil threatened to the first Adam for his first transgression. Christ "gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works..” Christ did not give himself for us, to redeem us from the death
of the body. Though the body be dead because of sin, yet the death of the body was not threatened to Adam for his first transgression.
Adam died the death with which he was threatened in the day on which he transgressed. But on that day his body did not die. It was hundreds of
years after this, before his body returned to dust. Besides, it is not true that the bodies of all men will ever die. The vast multitudes of believers, who will be alive upon the earth at the end of the world, will be exempted from death. “Behold,” says Inspiration, “I shew you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump.” But the death threatened to Adam was to come upon all men. Therefore the death threatened to Adam was not temporal death. All men do not die. Enoch was delivered from death by translation. “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death."
2. The death with which Adam was threatened in the garden, was not eternal death; because
1. From it there is no redemption. The death with which Adam was threatened was immediately executed upon him. As soon as he had eaten he was a dead man, and the stroke of death reached his whole posterity. Hence all are dead, for, “If one died for all, then were all dead.” From this death through the blood of Christ we may be redeemed, "once for all.” But from eternal death there is no redemption. When the sentence of eternal death is once passed upon any, there is no recovery.
When Adam, in Paradise, was threatened with death, he was in a state of perfect holiness, and he was threatened with death for one offence. No opportunity for a second trial was to be allowed him. But eternal death is threatened to sinners, ONLY, on the condition that they continue in sin. We came into the world sinners; we begin our moral existence in a state of death. But is the gentence of oernal death passed upon men as soon as they are born?
Adam was threatened with death for one offence without any space for repentance. But his posterity are permitted to live in moral death, till they have committed ten thousand offences, and yet many of them never see eternal death. Hence we are threatened with eternal death, only, on the supposition, that we remain impenitent through the present life. If we commit a thousand offences and then give a cup of cold water to one of the least of Christ's brethren, out of love, or from a principle of charity, which suffereth long, and is kind, we shall not only be delivered from eternal death, but we shall come into possession of eternal life.
2. The death threatened our first parents in the garden of Eden, was not eternal death. because eternal death is a punishment which is not brought upon any, on account of the transgression of another, aside from his own personal act. We died a spiritual death with our first parents, without any previous act of transgression of our own. Adam's posterity, therefore, did not die as a punishment for any previous sin which they had committed. No one can be punished only for personal sin. The soul that sinneth, it shall die. And, "The wages of sin is death." If we sin and do not repent, we must die an eternal death. But we had not sinned prior to that death which we die, in consequence of Adam's eating the forbidden fruit. None will ever be cast into hell, where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched, except those who have sinned in their own person. "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad." "But the death which was threatened to Adam in Paradise, came upon himself and upon all his posterity, on the sole ground of his one offence; therefore, as eternal death is inflicted only on the ground of personal agency in sin, it is impossible that this should be the death which was threatened to HIM, and which he brought upon himself, and upon all his posterity."